US national security officials are revamping an alert system to warn the public about terrorism risks
U.S. security officials are revamping the national alert system to warn the public about terrorism risks and will begin issuing bulletins to inform people about threats from Islamic State and other militant groups.
Speaking to reporters before Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was due to announce the change on Thursday, a senior department official said the bulletins would provide a “more flexible way of communicating threats to the American people.”
He said the addition of bulletins as a third form of advisory to the system in place since 2011 had been in the works for months and was not prompted by the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
“The bulletin is intended to describe current developments or general trends regarding threats of terrorism to the United States for the American people,” he said.
The bulletins would also inform the public about what security authorities are doing about the threat and give advice about what people may do to keep safe, the official said.
The current system, which replaced a color-coded scheme in 2011, has two advisory levels: an elevated alert, which warns of a credible threat of an attack; and an imminent alert, which warns of a credible, specific and impending threat.
No such alerts have been issued since the system was set up, the official said.
He said the possibility of homegrown extremists inspired by Islamic State mounting attacks at public venues in the United States is the biggest concern for the department.
A bulletin may be issued about an event and ask people to be prepared for the security they would see at the venue or on their way there, the official said.
(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Leslie Adler)